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Top 10 Mario Flight/ Glide Moves and Abilities; aka "The Air Master" [top ten]

With a new Mario game arriving soon (Super Mario 3D World for Wii U), I couldn't help but think back on all of Mario's different special moves and abilities. More specifically, Mario has many different ways to soar through the sky and stay there for a period of time before touching foot on solid ground. I decided to pick out some of my favorite methods Mario has used to conquer the air; I broadened the definition of 'flight moves' to allow for more then just the standard power-ups, though I did intend to stay within the regular Mario platformer series. Let's take a look at what ended up on my list:
Posted: 11/11/13, 15:42:17  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/13, 15:41:08
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Flying Mario
Item used:
Red Star

Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

With this ability, Mario can fly freely as he pleases, and his red and black clothing gives Mario a new, fashionable appearance. Unfortunately, this ability is extremely limited where you can use it.

Propeller Mario
Item used:
Propeller Mushroom

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

It's not the best-looking suit Mario has worn, but it's a valuable power-up in the New Super Mario Bros. games when you're trying to outperform your friends in simultaneous multiplayer. It's fairly basic but gets the job done: Mario gets an upward air boost followed by a slow descent to the ground.

Balloon Mario
Item used:

Super Mario World (SNES)

This one's just hilarious: Mario inflates himself like a balloon and floats slowly along. Unfortunately, you're pretty vulnerable as you float, though you can still kill enemies by slowly pushing down on them. But by that time Mario's already run out of air! There was a whole special stage in Super Mario World (Tubular) filled with Volcano Lotuses, Koopa Paratroopas, and the Confused Chuck and Passin' Chuck variations of the Chargin' Chuck, that truly tests your ability to navigate Mario as floats along. Suffice it to say it's a bit of a challenge. Yoshi has a similar move in Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Blimp Yoshi), a nice little nod to Mario's move.

Bee Mario
Item used:
Bee Mushroom

Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

He can't sting with it, but he can fly short distances! Not only can Mario fly, but he can also climb honeycombs and walk on flower petals and clouds. That may not seem like a bid deal, but when you're in a bee's world, these moves open many doors of possibilities.

Sky Pop
Item used:
(Not applicable)

Super Mario Land (Game Boy)

Among many other reasons, Super Mario Land is unique in the Mario series for being the only game where Mario can actually take control of a submarine and an airplane! Although you could argue this doesn't deserve to be on the list since Mario is relying on a nuts-and-bolts machine to fly rather than a special ability, I feel it's awesome enough to take a spot. Mario could learn a thing or two from Kirby and implement more shoot-em-up stages in his games!

Lakitu's cloud, Pidgit's magic carpet, aka "Steal that Ride"
Item used:
(Not applicable)

Super Mario Bros. 2 for the carpet (NES)
Super Mario World for the cloud (SNES)

I decided to combine these two into one because essentially Mario is doing the same thing: he's stealing the enemy's ride! It's fun to turn the tables and show the bad guys who's in charge, right? It would be great if Lakitu's Cloud became more of a power-up itself and allowed Mario to act on the offensive by throwing his own Spinies from above. Though... he can already wreak havoc with his fireballs already, so never mind! Still would be cool...

Super Mario Bros. 2 (left), Super Mario World (right)
Flying Squirrel Mario
Item used:
Super Acorn

New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

A fun new power-up introduced in the Wii U game. It's fairly basic the first time you use, consisting of simple gliding, but it has a nifty little upward flight move followed by a slow descent, as well as giving Mario a wall-sticking ability. Some of the challenge stages built around this power-up truly show off the different ways you can use it to explore the levels in interesting ways! It's cleverly implemented into the level design and thus makes it one of my new favorite abilities.

Wing Mario
Item used:
Wing Cap

Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

This definitely deserves to be in the Top 3. How many of you took the Wing Cap in Super Mario 64, jumped into the Cannon in Bob-Omb Battlefield and just had fun flying around high in the sky? I loved taking deep dives then pulling back on the N64 analog stick and seeing Mario soar quickly back up. The sound effects made it all the more thrilling. On top of that, Mario's own shouts of joy ("Yipee!") during flight seemed to match my own. This was a wonderful flight mechanic to use in Mario's first 3D adventure, making it seem like there really were no limits to Mario (or Nintendo games in general).

Raccoon Mario
Item used:
Super Leaf

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Perhaps the most iconic image out all of Mario's games. This was really the first time Mario had his own special ability to fly into the sky. I know that seeing this for the first time as a kid was almost magical. I also think the Tanooki Suit deserves mention, though I don't think it should take up a separate spot on the list since it has the same flying effect in Super Mario Bros. 3 as the Tail.

Although the Tanooki suit made a return in Super Mario 3D Land, Mario couldn't fly. Gamers finally saw Mario's flying tail back in action in New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS, including the ever memorable sound effect of filling up the Speed Gauge.

As an added bonus, the Raccoon tail can be used to directly attack enemies!

Super Mario Bros. 3 (left), New Super Mario Bros. 2 (right)
Cape Mario
Item used:
Cape Feather

Super Mario World (SNES)

After all this time, I'm still amazed at the versatility of the Cape; Mario looks great in it (like some kind of Mushroom Kingdom super hero), it's magical (really, how does it stay attached to his feet when he's gliding?), and it even has its own offensive capabilities as Mario nose dives and slams the ground with thunderous awe. This is one of the few power-ups on this list that Mario can use to remain flying indefinitely. As long as you can control the left-right taps of the D-pad to keep Mario swooping in a rhythmic wave pattern, he can glide all the way to the end of the stage (well, depending on the design of the stage!).

Much like the Raccoon Tail, an added bonus is the ability to directly attack enemies!

The Cape has even been the focus of a Negative World editorial exploring at how the powerful item could make a return in a modern Mario game. Make it happen Nintendo!

And just a side note, but isn't it charming seeing the Super Koopas don their own capes? These little guys actually have excellent air superiority. But, man, they are so incredibly weak.
That's my list! Did I overlook one of your favorite air moves? Does Mario remain king of all platforming goodness, no matter where his adventures may take him (whether it's air, land, sea, outer space, and ... beyond)? Add your comments below!

Be sure to check out some of Negative World's other Top Ten character moves and abilities, including Yoshi and Kirby!

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Posted: 11/11/13, 15:42:17  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/13, 15:41:08
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Nice list! I do love the cape but I was always confused how it magically attached to his feet during flight.
Posted: 11/11/13, 17:02:07
I wonder if Super Mario Land 2's Super Carrot could qualify for the list? Maybe not, since it doesn't really give flight, just lets Mario float slowly to the ground afterwards. Still, kind of a unique item and keeps Mario airborne for various stages.


Well obviously, it's a *MAGIC* cape!
Posted: 11/11/13, 17:10:58  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/13, 17:11:55
The cape is definitely my favorite of Mario's items in any Mario games not just flying items.
Posted: 11/11/13, 17:16:32

I definitely considered it! (Among other things like FLUDD, Boo Mario, using the Cannon, and more). But yeah, its airborne capabilities don't quite match the other stuff on the list, as you mentioned.

But hey, I gave Super Mario Land some love!
And fully acknowledged the awesomeness of Raccoon Mario returning in NSMB2.
Posted: 11/11/13, 17:20:25  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/13, 17:21:58
I would've been disappointed had the cape not been #1. It's such an awesome power-up.
Posted: 11/11/13, 17:32:33
This thread makes me want to play Super Mario World again. Great list! My personal favourite is the raccoon tail. Was glad to see it return in NSMB2, now we wait for the cape to make its return.
Posted: 11/11/13, 17:36:13

I just replayed Mario World this past weekend with my brother in law. It's still my favourite Mario game, and a lot of that has to do with the cape.
Posted: 11/11/13, 17:53:06
I feel like #10 is better in theory than execution though, since you don't even get to use it in a real stage in the game.

With strict application Helicopter Yoshi doesn't count since Mario isn't even with him during the transformation, but I'd find a way to squeeze it into my list.

Squirrel Mario definitely grew on me once I realized the concept revolved more around gliding than flying, and played some of the challenge areas that really made you get your gliding skills down.
Posted: 11/11/13, 19:10:43  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/13, 19:12:22
Zero said:
With strict application Helicopter Yoshi doesn't count since Mario isn't even with him during the transformation, but I'd find a way to squeeze it into my list.

Helicopter Yoshi is pretty sweet, for sure, and he did land pretty high on my Yoshi list, if you'll recall!
Posted: 11/11/13, 19:22:51
Oh yeah, you did a Yoshi list, ha ha. Wouldn't make much sense to include him here then.
Posted: 11/11/13, 19:29:40

Oh yeah, that's cool. I was also wondering if you considered the "mega-trampoline" from Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. Mario doesn't get much more airborne than that, lol!

With #5, I wonder if the "Hippo Bubble" from Super Mario Land 2 would have counted? Mario does a lot of flying in that area, what with the near zero-gravity for Space Zone. I'm especially fond of the "space walk" stage, where Mario just cruises through the stars in his spacesuit. (where did he get that, anyway?)

The music is pretty good in that stage, too!
Posted: 11/11/13, 19:40:26

Oops! I did not even consider either the Lost Levels' mega-trampoline or the Space Zone stuff from SML 2. I knew there were probably a few things I didn't think about.

It's been a while since I played Lost Levels (SNES version), so naturally I just didn't think about it. I should have remembered the space stuff as I have played SML 2 more recently. Honestly though, I'm not sure it would have cracked the Top Ten. Maybe.

Oh yeah, that music is wonderful!
Posted: 11/11/13, 19:55:46

Well, you did include stuff I wasn't even aware of...I mean, I didn't know there was a Red Star power-up in Super Mario Galaxy! It's good to have lists like this and be reminded of gaming info from others. It's surprising how much I've not been aware of and/or forgotten about, ha ha.

Y'know, for being such a "rotund" fellow, Mario sure can fly. Pretty impressive.

Super Mario World probably has the most flight out of any Mario game - with the right timing, you can keep Mario in the air for the entire stage! I was also a big fan of flying with Yoshi, when he ate a purple Koopa Troopa shell and sprouted wings, or if a purple Yoshi at any color shell. (the best was when Yoshi ate a flashing shell, and got the power of flight, ground-pound AND fire-breath all at once! He was Super Yoshi!)
Posted: 11/11/13, 20:03:51
Eric, it makes me so happy you gave the cape its proper due.
Posted: 11/11/13, 20:24:51
My only problem with the cape is that it is immensely overpowered in SMW.
Posted: 11/11/13, 22:31:55
All that matters is that the Cape is on top, everything else just falls short.

How about riding the Para-Beetles? I feel bad making them flap so much harder that they overcompensate and ascend even with Mario on their back. Makes me feel like a real jerk.
Posted: 11/11/13, 22:52:20  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/13, 22:52:38

Over powered how? Doesn't it just attack with the same power as the raccoon tail? As for flight, it does what a cape does. I guess its closer to a P Wing in the right hands, and in that sense it could be said overpowered. Otherwise, it just is what it is.
Posted: 11/11/13, 23:32:01
Number one is disappointing, but not surprising. With all these cool Mario powerups like a raccoon tail and a balloon, a cape just seems bland and uninspired in comparison. Not to mention how the cape nearly makes Mario like Superman, being nearly invincible with how many enemies it can swiftly and easily defeat or defend against, and has near limitless flight. Just makes things way too easy.

Most of the other choices are more interesting, fortunately. The Red Star in Galaxy was pretty cool, it's just a shame you could only use it in the Observatory outside of the level it was introduced. I figured it'd be back in Super Mario Galaxy 2 since I thought the reason it was under-utilized was due to time constraints... I have no idea why it didn't return.

The propeller suit was fun, but it's been replaced by the squirrel suit which pretty much does the same thing except also let you glide and cling to walls. Nice to see something obscure like the Sky Pop in there. I recall having trouble figuring out the Wing Cap when I first used it, but it was fun after I got the hang of it. Bee Mario scares me.
Posted: 11/11/13, 23:42:15
@DrFinkelstein I didn't want to double post, but I guess I'll fill this one.

Firstly, one difference is that the cape swing is instantaneous. The raccoon tail has a brief moment where Mario swings his tail forward, so this requires a small degree of timing to whap enemies, but with the cape, you can just mash the Y button and nothing can touch Mario from the front without getting smacked.

Second, the cape hits enemies on both sides of Mario, whereas the raccoon tail strikes only what's in front of him. So now, if you mash the Y button then Mario is untouchable from both sides.

Third is what the spin jump adds to the mix. This allows Mario to jump and spin the cape wildly, with a little more range than usual even, so, combined with the stomp power of the spin jump, Mario is now protected from three sides. Only a hit dropping from directly above can hurt Mario during a spin jump.

Fourth is that, during the period of flight where Mario is holding his cape to glide, if you get hit by an enemy here, Mario will not take damage. Any hit here will simply knock him out of flight without damaging him.

There may be more, but these four things are what make the cape so much more powerful than the raccoon tail.
Posted: 11/16/13, 00:18:12
@Mop it up
Aww, I was ready to jump on this!
Good explanation of the overpowered magic of the cape though!
Posted: 11/16/13, 03:05:39
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